The satirical, in-your-face answer is don’t hire a sub par salesperson! Actually, this wouldn’t be a bad post by itself but since I like to give people their money’s worth I’ll give you a different answer. Letting a sales rep go is painful both for the salesperson and the sales manager, although it is fair to say that it is more painful for the salesperson. (I was let go from two sales positions and I didn’t really see that much pain on the faces of the people doing the firing!)
I’ve mentioned this in previous posts that the most professional way to let a rep go is face to face. There are exceptions to that method but I still prefer it. So, on to my suggestion. Earlier this week I spoke to two salespeople who worked for two of my clients. Both these people were let go from their sales positions at my suggestion. The reasons why i suggested termination were different for each person but the the net effect was the same-no more job.
I had a conversation with each of these folks on Monday. Both had actually been terminated (don’t ya hate that word?) so my telephone conversation with each person was the “why was I terminated” call. My main suggestion is to be thorough and upfront about the reasons for being let go. I precede that with feedback on what the salesperson did correctly in the position. Let’s be honest, every salesperson has some good attributes so why not let the person know that. Explaining the negatives is more difficult and gut-wrenching.
Always refer to specific sales situations where the salesperson executed poor to ineffective sales techniques. It will help enormously if you as the manager have already coached the rep on the specific techniques you want them to use. To say nothing of that being your job! It’s really hard to fire someone because they did not use a technique that they weren’t aware they should be using. Can you say courtroom? The key phrase here is “specific sales situations.” If the reason that you are firing someone is unclear they will continue to ask why and continue to be frustrated if they don’t receive a satisfactory answer.
Toward the end of this awkward discussion I always add the comment that just because this opportunity did not work out doesn’t mean that the person can’t be successful in other sales positions. There are times when good salespeople wind up in sales positions that are not “tailored’ to their strengths. It happens all the time. The rep that you are firing needs to know that, not just because it’s an ego boost but because it’s true!
Some of you may be thinking that I’m a bit of a weenie because my approach to firing is considerate. I’ve executed the cold approach to firing when the person I’m firing is a world class nimrod who doesn’t deserve a thoughtful approach to being canned. Truthfully, most people aren’t like that.
The Final Thought: “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit” George Carlin